Wednesday, October 04, 2023

Brexit ultras waged campaign against the science journal Nature over covid vaccines

Computer Weekly has published a long and extraordinary story by Duncan Campbell, Bill Goodwin and Guy Taylor:

One of the world’s most prestigious general science journals, Nature, was the target of a two-year-long sustained and virulent secret attack by a conspiratorial group of extreme Brexit lobbyists with high-level political, commercial and intelligence connections, according to documents and correspondence examined by Computer Weekly and Byline Times.

The group attempted to have Nature and its staff put under surveillance and investigated by MI5, MI6, the CIA, Mossad, and Japanese and Australian intelligence agencies. They met Cabinet minister Michael Gove and later asked him to arrange phone taps and electronic surveillance. One member of the group led intrusive investigations into the intimate personal life and background circumstances of senior Nature staff the group suspected of “extreme Sinophile views”.

When their campaign flopped and a Covid vaccine promoted by the group failed to reach any form of clinical testing, the group arranged for unfounded accusations against Nature magazines and staff to be published by the Daily Telegraph and on other right wing news sites. They called themselves the “Covid Hunters”. Their allegations against science reporting helped fuel an explosion in “lab leak” claims on right-wing conspiracy sites.

Pushing their “extraordinary, true story” to a top Hollywood producer in 2020, the group wrote self-adulatory biographies and explained how fate had brought them together (see box: Covid Hunter heroes who became victims). The movie proposal portrayed them as victims of imagined Chinese-led information operations, aided and abetted by an imagined network of communist fellow travellers in the west. The movie idea “has all the ingredients of a major hit”, they blagged.

The producer did not write back. No movie was made. The truth was that their campaign helped flame divisive and damaging rows, potentially hindering international Covid research.

Now read on.

Tuesday, October 03, 2023

The three Dickies: More about Malcolm Saville on Children's Hour

We've seen that the third actor to play Malcolm Saville's child character (and my first literary hero) Dickie Morton was tried for murder at the Old Bailey as a young man.

That was Cavan Malone, who was acquitted within minutes by the jury on the grounds of self-defence. He continued acting for some years and played the first bridegroom in Coronation Street - he married Annie Walker's daughter - but was to die in 1982 aged only 45.

But who were the first two actors to play Dickie? 

The second Dickie was a woman. Elaine MacNamara took the part in adaptations of The Gay Dolphin Adventure and Seven White Gates, which were both first broadcast in 1946.

She had started acting in BBC Radio productions the previous year and did so regularly until 1961. As far as I can tell from the cast lists, she always played children - both boys and girls.

Besides a couple of stage appearances in Scotland before the war, that is all I can discover about her.

BBC Radio's common practice now, as it seems to have been when radio drama began, is to have boys' parts played by boys. But after the war it was more usual to give such roles to an adult actress.

Why that was the case may be explained by the first boy to play Dickie. 

That was Peter Mullins, who played him in an adaptation of Mystery at Wichend broadcast in October 1943,

The cast list reveals a couple of familiar names. Harry Fowler, the chirpy cockney evacuee in Went the Day Well? and star of Hue and Cry, sounds just right for Tom Ingles. David Morton, however, was played by Charles Hawtrey.

Charles Hawtrey?

Before you decide this dramatisation must have been a sort of Carry On Up the Lone Pine - and Hattie Jacques would have made a wonderful Miss Ballinger - I had better point out that as a young man Hawtrey often played children on the radio and even on film.

In 1943 Peter Mullins was becoming a regular for the BBC, acting in everything from Children’s Hour serials to Marlowe's Edward II.

You can see Mullins in a clip above playing Bruno, a German Jewish refugee boy, in Mr Emmanuel, a 1944 propaganda film. Perhaps he's not helped by the German accent he was obliged to adopt.

As small boys will, Mullins got older, with the results that he played the older brother David Morton in the two 1945 adaptations where Elaine MacNamara played Dickie, He was also Guy Standing when Children’s Hour dramatised Malcolm Saville’s Redshank’s Warning in 1948.

But it was another of his roles that may have led to the BBC to conclude that it was less trouble to cast women as boys. Charles Hawtrey and Peter Mullins also played brothers in the first series of Norman and Henry Bones - Boy Detectives, which was again broadcast as part of  Children's Hour in 1943.

This proved hugely popular and was to run to more than 120 episodes, with the result that Peter Mullins was soon replaced by Patricia Hayes, presumably because he didn't sound like the younger brother any more.

I remember reading about the casting of Billy Barratt in the BBC television drama Responsible Child a few years ago - I raved about his performance at the time,

One of the challenges was that they had to leave it late to find their young lead, because if you cast the perfect 12-year-old six months before filming starts, he may no longer be perfect when he turns up on the first day. 

Peter Mullins went on acting for BBC Radio into the early 1950s, by then playing adult roles in the classics.

There are two Peter Mullins on the IMDb. Peter Mullins (I) has half a dozen credits for children’s roles in the 1940s, including Caravan (1946), which features the future DJ Pete Murray, and another Malcolm Saville story, Trouble at Townsend, from the same year.

He also has a couple of credits as a stage manager for TV plays from 1952. This, surely, is the Peter Mullins who played Dickie Morton.

Peter Mullins (II) on IMDb is an art director and production designer, with credits including Where Eagles Dare and a couple of Pink Panther films. He worked continuously from 1947 (when he was credited as an apprentice) until 2001.

But if you look at his entry carefully, you will see that this Peter Mullins also has a couple of credits as a child actor in the 1940s - for Hue and Cry (1947) and The Boys in Brown (1949).

As it's not such a common name, I'm happy to conclude that Peter Mullins (I) and Peter Mullins (II) are the same person. Which means that the original radio Dickie Morton is still alive at the age of 92.

The Joy of Six 1166

"If the introduction of proportional representation is a Lib Dem red line, then the party needs to work out now how it would secure the political commitment to change, and the process for achieving it." Jess Sargeant says the Liberal Democrats must learn from their failure to achieve constitutional reform during the Coalition years.

Daniel Dennett is interviewed by Taylor McNeil about his career as a philosopher and his hopes and fears for the future: "AI systems, like all software, are replicable with high fidelity and unbelievably fast mutations. If you have high fidelity replication and mutations, then you have evolution, and evolution can get out of hand, as it has in the past many times."

"It isn’t brave to say you hate classical music so much as bog-standard normal. State publicly that you don’t like classical music, and you’re cool, funny and 'relatable'. State publicly that you don’t like popular music, and you’re a weirdo or a snob." Alexandra Wilson dissects a Twitter row.

Christopher Hilton on Benjamin Britten as a campaigner against railway branch line closures.

PsychoNottingham investigates one of the city's lost cinemas.

"An emerging leitmotif in much of Aiken’s subsequent work for children makes its appearance here — the resourcefulness of its young protagonists against the machinations of adults who wish them ill. It’s not surprising that Wolves has shown itself a popular choice with younger readers: it has the right amount of jeopardy, a bit of safe distance is created by its being set in the 19th century, and expectations are high that, like a fairy tale, all will come right in the end." Calmgrove offers an appreciation of Joan Aitken's The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.

Monday, October 02, 2023

Cycle speedway: the sport that flourished on bombsites

Back to the bombsites. Thanks to Talking Pictures TV, who showed this film the other day, I have discovered a sport that was invented on them in the years after the war. It's cycle speedway.

The Cycle Speedway History says:

The sport of Motor Cycle Speedway was allegedly introduced to this Country in 1928, and it is from these humble beginnings that the sport of Cycle Speedway emerged, with a form of racing taking place before the second World War. However, it was not until the end of this war that the sport emerged in a controlled and recorded manner, and the "Skid Kids" were truly born. 

In 1946 Control Boards and Local Leagues were formed throughout the Country, these being run by interested adults, many of whom had their own sons and daughters in the teams. The tracks themselves were built on cleared bomb sites, where previous devastation and despair were replaced by the sounds of enjoyment and laughter. Bricks and timber from the bombed houses were used to mark the inner and outer perimeter of the tracks, whilst mother's knicker elastic was used as the starting tape, this being pulled across the start line to the outside of the track, so as not to give the inner gates that extra advantage. 

Once the sport got on it's feet, a number of go-ahead Councils began to donate corners of recreation grounds on which tracks could be built, some even financing this venture, from the building of the track, to the supply of all the equipment required.

One of the early Cycle Speedway Control Boards was that of London, and when the National Association of Boys Clubs joined forces, their numbers topped the three thousand mark.

A very early magazine for the sport was called "Cycle Speedway Monthly", which covered the whole Country, and sold well over 4,000 copies per edition.

In 1950 a national association was established for the sport, and by 1958 there was a British Cycle Speedway Federation. The two bodies proved to be rivals until they merged to form the Cycle Speedway Council in 1971.

I can't recall coming across the sport before, but the British Cycling site assures us that:

Cycle speedway is accessible, affordable, family-oriented and taking place in clubs throughout the country.

Former University of Leicester director of communications to sue Steve Coogan over his portrayal in The Lost King

The Sun's archaeology correspondent writes:

Actor Steve Coogan is being sued over claims he portrayed a university ­academic as a “sexist bully” in a film.

Coogan, 57, co-wrote and starred in 2022’s The Lost King, about the quest to uncover the remains of ­Richard III a decade earlier.

Now a member of the Leicester University team that located his final resting place beneath a car park in the city is suing the star for defamation.

Richard Taylor said: “I’m portrayed as a bullying, ­cynical, double-crossing, devious manipulator which is bad.

“But when you add I behave in a sexist way and a way that seems to mock Richard III’s disabilities, you get into the realm of defamation.”

Mr Taylor said he tried to get changes but producers refused.

For some background on this affair, have a look at a post of mine from a year ago. It's worth following the link to British Archaeology magazine to download the pdf of Mike Pitts's full article.

Mike Martin, Lib Dem PPC for Tunbridge Wells, on what victory looks like for Ukraine and how it can be achieved

The guest on Nick Cohen's latest The Lowdown podcast is Dr Mike Martin, ex-soldier, military strategist, author - and Liberal Democrat PPC for Tunbridge Wells:

Mike, a senior visiting research fellow in the Department of War Studies at King's College , London, explain to Nick how the West initially miscalculated Ukraine's chances against a belligerent Russia by looking at the spreadsheet showing the relative military strengths of each country in terms of material and troop numbers. Western leaders failed to take into account other elements such as strategy, quality of leadership and that crucial of all military essences, the will to fight.

Ukraine's initial tactical priority is the eviction of Russia's forces from along the shore of the Black Sea and in particular Crimea, the loss of which should prove one defeat too many for Vladamir Putin's chances of survival.

But is strategic victory for Ukraine possible before the 2024 US Presidential election and can Europe step up to the plate in the likelihood of a second Trump victory?

Listen to the podcast.

The previous edition of The Lowdown, where the guest is the novelist and historian James Hawes, is a good listen too.

Sunday, October 01, 2023

Does professional rugby union have a future?

Embed from Getty Images

This summer London Irish followed Worcester and Wasps to become the third Premiership to drop out of the league because of financial problems.

Last week Jersey Reds, who play in the second tier and are one of the English game's success stories of recent years, announced they had 'ceased trading' and that liquidation is inevitable unless new funding can be found.

Yet this financial crisis may not be the most serious threat rugby union faces. It may be that professionalism has made the game too dangerous.

Gavin Francis has reviewed Sam Peters' Concussed: Sport's Uncomfortable Truth in the London Review of Books.

Francis begins by reminding us how fragile the human brain is:

The human brain​ is softer than tofu, squishier than a jellyfish, slightly more robust than toothpaste. Brain surgeons tend not to use scalpels because the substance they work on is too delicate; instead they use ultrasound and suction probes, using breaths of air to suck away diseased bits of matter.

He then describes how the professionalisation of the game in 1995 has changed the size and speed of international players in the men's game. In the late 1980s the average player in the New Zealand rugby union squad weighed around 92kg. By 2019, South Africa’s national team weighed in at an average of 102 kg, and its forwards at an average of 118kg.

The former England team doctor Phil Batty is quoted:

"Rugby is a collision sport and you cannot deny there has been an increase in injuries. It used to be that the forwards wouldn’t be quick enough to catch the backs but now, with greater emphasis on fitness training, they are and then you can get serious collisions. That, in very simple terms, is what has happened to club rugby."

Sam Peters worked for many years at the Mail on Sunday, where he started a campaign to change the game’s rules to give players better protection from concussion. Concussed is the story of that campaign, as well as an account of the transformation of professional men’s rugby from a contact sport played by big men into a collision sport played by giants.

Let's leave the last word to Chris Nowinski, a former wrestler and  neuroscientist, who is the co-founder of Boston University’s centre for the study of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy - a condition first diagnosed in boxers in the 1930s).

He too has mounted a sustained campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of repeated concussions, and he says:

"The only people in the world who reject our findings are medics employed by sports bodies."

The game has begun to change, though Gavin Francis says the safeguards in rugby are not as strong as in boxing. And it's noticeable at this rugby world cup that whenever a player is punished after a striking an opponent's head, the pundits always take his part.

So does professional rugby union have a future? Even if its current financial problems are overcome, is it just too dangerous for the players?

Dobie Gray: Out on the Floor

I once chose two classics by Dobie Gray - The In Crowd and Drift Away - in consecutive weeks because I like them so much.

And here is a third.

Out on the Floor often appears in lists of the greatest Northern Soul tracks, sometimes at the top. It was recorded in 1966 and has twice (1975 and 1983) been a minor hit in the UK, and appeared on the wonderfully named 1990 collection album Dobie Gray Sings for 'In' Crowders That 'Go Go'.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

The Shropshire Star has a new owner

This blog's favourite newspaper, the Shropshire Star, has a new owner:

The Shropshire Star and Express and Star have been sold to a new publisher, it has been announced.

The two titles, which have a combined physical circulation of 23,000 and previously run by the family-owned Claverley Group, have been acquired by National World.

The purchase will increase National World's daily sales by about 40%.

Phil Inman, CEO of Claverley Group, said selling was an "extremely difficult decision".

National World currently owns the Yorkshire Post and The Scotsman, and in the West Midlands owns titles including the Rugby Advertiser and Leamington Courier.

There's little enough good news for local and regional newspapers these days, but the Yorkshire Post is notable for its independence and its willingness to criticise the Conservative government.

Much as I love the Shropshire Star, if it starts to reflect a similar spirit, that will be a change for the better.

Ready Teddy Go! The intrepid bears of Market Harborough

There was exciting news on Harborough FM yesterday:

Teddy bears will be taking the plunge from the top of Market Harborough’s St Dionysius Church tomorrow!

The teddy zip-line challenge is on from midday until 4pm, as part of an event to raise money for the Market Harborough C of E Primary Academy.

Youngsters are invited to take their teddies along to give them the dare-devil experience.

So that's what I saw going on in town earlier this afternoon - in an earlier life, I was a governor at that school.

I should emphasise that every bear I saw risk the wire landed safely.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Michael Gambon, Janet Suzman. Kenneth Trodd and others on The Singing Detective

The death of Michael Gambon sent me off searching for clips from The Singing Detective. There aren't many around, but I did find this British Film Institute discussion on the series.

As the YouTube blurb explains:
The Singing Detective (1986) is Dennis Potter’s best-known and most highly regarded work. The show’s stars Michael Gambon and Janet Suzman join producer Kenith Trodd, director Jon Amiel and writer Peter Bowker to remember making the series and working with Potter.

Panel chaired by broadcaster Samira Ahmed.

The former Black Boy pub in Leicester is to be redeveloped with a touch of facadism

Over the years this blog has followed the fate of The Black Boy in Leicester, a closed pub in Leicester where I was once known to drink.

Today a BBC News report suggests that all the campaign to 'save' the striking building from the 1920s has managed is that a bit of facadism will be thrown in when the site is redeveloped to built a five-storey block of flats:

Plans to tear down a 1920s pub so flats can be built on the site have been recommended for approval.

The Black Boy pub in Albion Street, Leicester, has been closed since 2012.

An application has been submitted to build 26 studio flats and 12 one-bed apartments on the site, retaining just the facades of the former public house.

Despite the officers' recommendation for acceptance, the report quotes them as finding it 'disappointing' that the scheme did not preserve more of the building:

They described facadism as a 'superficial approach to building conservation that does not conserve the building as a three-dimensional piece of architecture and involves the loss of the integrity of the heritage asset and substantial harm to its significance'.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Matthew Sweet on conspiracy theorists and the media

This new edition of Michael Goldfarb's FRDH ('The First Rough Draft of History') podcast is well worth listening to.

Matthew Sweet explains how knowledge is intentionally corrupted by conspiracy friendly media and why people embrace these ideas.

Talking of Dr Sweet, this is a chance for me to recommend his book Inventing the Victorians, which shares my view that the Victorians were a lot less Victorian than we imagine.

The Joy of Six 1165

"For at least a generation, the Aliyev regime in Baku has lied to its citizens, claiming that Armenian Christians, who have lived in Karabakh for centuries, are invaders - alien, subhuman, a cancer. Wherever it has had a chance, the Baku regime has destroyed Armenian churches and gravesites to erase evidence of Armenians’ indigeneity to the territory." Mark Movsesian explains the background to current events in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Prem Sikka says the collapse of Wilko shows why we need to reform insolvency laws: "In the previous decade, around £77m in dividends was paid out. Directors extracted dividends and chose not to repair the pension scheme. The stark reality for employees is that after years of making full contributions to the pension scheme, they will lose some of their pension rights because as unsecured creditors they will receive little from the sale of Wilko’s assets."

Kate Summers et al. find that anti-welfare attitudes among the public have fallen sharply since 2010.

"Big Bill Broonzy was the person who made me want to play the guitar in the first place. Play it, as I thought, properly. I could never get my tonsils around the singing but I could do a pretty good Big Bill Broonzy imitation on the guitar." Tradfolk interviews Martin Carthy with the help of celebrity folk fans and former collaborators.

Nearly Knowledgeable on the 'Nine Men of Madeley' - nine men and boys who died in a Shropshire coal-mining accident in 1864.

"One important detail to remember is that 'Allo 'Allo! was originally conceived as a parody of the BBC wartime drama Secret Army (1977-79). Written by Colditz creator Gerald Glaister, Secret Army, which ran for three series, was a ruthlessly serious drama centred around a stronghold of the Resistance operating out of a Belgian café. As much as it derived its humour from the war itself, 'Allo 'Allo! was also lampooning the tropes of serious BBC drama. In fact, many of 'Allo 'Allo!’s archetypes - the covert beret-sporting female Resistance member, the kind Nazi, the bosomy waitress - are based on Glaister’s original characters" Andrew Male speaks up for 'Allo 'Allo (though he says it only once).

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The wonderful Lynton & Barnstaple Railway

This is a tremendous video by Rediscovering Lost Railways that blends archive and contemporary footage. It shows us the 19-mile Lynton & Barnstaple Railway under operation and what remains of the route today, including a short restored stretch.

I dream that the whole line will be restored one day by the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Trust. It was closed by the Southern Railway in 1935.

A few points:

  • I once posted my photo of Barnstaple Town station standing derelict in 1962.
  • The prime mover in the building of the line was Sir George Newnes, who was Liberal MP for Newmarket between 1885 and 1895, and for Swansea between 1900 and the first election of 1910.
  • The publishing company that Newnes founded brought out most of Malcolm Saville's Lone Pine stories.
  • Bratton Fleming, which also had a station on the line, was the scene of the service of thanksgiving for the acquittal of Jeremy Thorpe.

How the Lib Dems are choosing their targets for the next election

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Peter Walker in the Guardian has more details of the Liberal Democrats' plans to 'use the by-election playbook across the Blue Wall' - see my Liberator article on For a Fair Deal.

He writes:

The Lib Dems’ approach is, at its heart, to worry much less about winning votes and focus entirely on winning seats. If you are a Lib Dem candidate and your constituency is not on the target list? Basically, you’re on your own.

Walker presents this as a reaction to the disappointment of the 2019 election, though that had its roots in Jo Swinson's team believing some wildly optimistic opinion polling that suggested some unlikely seats were within the Lib Dems' grasp. It wasn't caused by a lack of central control.

This time we shall be ruthlessly targeting of a limited number of seats. These are not new tactics, but it has always been a strain to stick to them in the heat of a general election, when deep down every candidate thinks they are in with a chance.

Anyway, this is Walker's account of how the party is preparing for the next election - McCobb is the Hull councillor Dave McCobb, our election co-ordinator:

Every three months, the 50 Lib Dem activists members who have recorded the most voter interactions over that period join a call with McCobb, Lib Dem president, Mark Pack, and others to update them on how the messages are landing.

While the Lib Dems are targeting a handful of Labour-held seats, the preponderance of contests with Tory candidates means policies and priorities are heavily based on tempting over former Conservative voters who have grown weary of the party’s dramas.

This means a relentless national focus on issues such as sewage, the NHS and the cost of living, with more traditional Lib Dem fare such as electoral reform still in the draft manifesto but relegated to a lower 'tier' and barely discussed.

All of this is then directed at identifying seats where enough disillusioned Tories and tactically-voting Labour supporters can be tempted to the Lib Dem side. ...

The list is not fixed. It is determined by a mix of polling and a metric based largely on legwork. The overall aim is, as one official put it, to give voters the impression of “winning momentum”.

If we are targeting a handful of Labour seats, I suspect it's a very small handful, but I like the idea that you can canvass your way into the party's higher counsels.

Walker ends by asking how well the party can expect to do come the election. I suspect he gets it about right:

There is, however, one thing no one will talk about, even privately: how many seats it could secure. The broad view seems to be that fewer than 30 would be regarded as a huge disappointment; more than 40 a triumph.

Thirty would double the party’s current tally. More than 40 would be approaching the glory days of 2005 and 2010. Will it happen? No one really knows. But if it does not, it will not be for want of effort.

Bake Off: Shropshire's Nicky into next round even after her chocolate beaver fails to impress

UNIMPRESSED: Prue Leith    

    As it does so often, the Shropshire Star wins our Headline of the Day Award.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Demolition work at Naseby Square, Market Harborough

Thirteen bungalows are being demolished at Naseby Square in Market Harborough so that new 'affordable' homes can be built on the site.

I happened past this afternoon and took these photos.

Harborough FM reports:

The occupants were first informed of the plan when they received a letter out-of-the-blue and have since been re-housed by housing association Platform Housing Group, which is carrying out the £7.5m re-development.

A major campaign against the plan followed, with hundreds signing petitions against it.

Marion Duffy, Chief Operations officer at Platform Housing Group confirmed residents rehoused will be given the opportunity to return and says relations with other residents in the area are now good.


Write a guest post for Liberal England

The new political season is here. If there's something you want to say, remember that I enjoy publishing guest posts here on Liberal England. So if you've got an idea for a post you could write for this blog, drop me a line

As you can see from the list below, I accept posts on subjects far beyond the Liberal Democrats and British politics.

I'm happy to entertain a wide variety of views, but I'd hate you to spend your time writing something I really wouldn't want to publish. So do please get in touch first.

These are the last 10 guest posts on Liberal England:

Lord Bonkers' Diary: Waddling across the Oakham road and pulling faces at the motorists

I'm pleased to see that Ruttie remains in rude health, and it wouldn't be a visit it to Bonkers Hall without the Well-Behaved Orphans. And so another week with Rutland's most celebrated fictional peer draws to a close.


Who should I spy on the lawn at breakfast but my old friend Ruttie, the Rutland Water Monster? Between you and me, I think she is getting jealous of all the attention being paid to Loch Ness. The next thing we know, she’ll be waddling across the Oakham road and pulling faces at the motorists to get in the papers herself. 

Later I call at my Home for Well-Behaved Orphans as they are having a film show. The little inmates have voted amongst themselves to decide the main feature and chosen The Colditz Story.

Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South West, 1906-10

Earlier this week....

Monday, September 25, 2023

Night of the Lepus and Any Questions? in the Seventies

These days I can't stand such programmes, but when I first became interested in politics as a young teenager I listened avidly to Any Questions? on BBC Radio 4.

So a few random memories of some of the more regular panellists in those days.

Richard Marsh had been a trade union official and a youthful member of Harold Wilson's cabinet in the Sixties, but by the time I heard him he was gratingly pro-business - full of talk of "UK Ltd" and the like. It was no surprise when he endorsed Margaret Thatcher in 1978 and received a peerage in return,

Ann Mallalieu was a young Labour-supporting barrister with a lovely deep voice. She received a peerage in 1991 and returned to prominence in the media as a supporter of fox hunting when Blair's government set about banning it.

Russell Braddon was an Australian writer who had made his name with The Naked Island, an account of the war in the Pacific and his years as a prisoner of the Japanese. I remember him as purveying right-wing views in an overly emotional voice.

Arianna Stassinopoulos - billed as a former president of the Cambridge Union - was never off the programme, though some wags claimed she was so dull that you fell asleep halfway through her name.

Michael Clayton, "editor of Horse and Hound", was another permanent fixture. He was on the panel when they broadcast the programme from my school and he later moved to the area. It turns out that, until the early Seventies, Clayton had been a BBC foreign correspondent and had also reported on the Fischer vs Spassky match in Reykjavik.

Fast forward a few years (which seemed like a couple of lifetimes while I had to live through them) and I'm a student at York. In fact, I'm at the Derwent Horrors - a long evening of horror films put on from time to time by Derwent College.

On the bill that night was Rabid, an early David Cronenberg film. But I remember another offering from the evening because it was so bad. In Night of the Lepus, an American family is menaced by giant killer rabbits that have escaped from a secure facility after an experiment gone wrong.

Because the film's premise was so ludicrous, and because the family had a particularly annoying child, we took to cheering the rabbits whenever they appeared.

And what ties all these memories together? It's that Night of the Lepus was based on a novel called The Year of the Angry Rabbit, which had been written by Any Questions? stalwart Russell Braddon.

Lord Bonkers' Diary: "Call them Orkney and Shetland"

When I tweeted a picture of a couple of my Liberal Party membership cards from the 1980s, something about the map on them attracted the attention of the President of the Liberal Democrats. 

He commented in reply: 

I'm not sure @amcarmichaelMP  would approve of his constituency being left off :)

Which got me thinking...


I first met Jo Grimond during the 1950 general election campaign. He proved a charming companion, and as we made inroads into a bottle of Auld Johnston, that most prized of Highland malts, he laid out his plans to me. 

“Britain needs a strong Liberal Party, yet it’s practically impossible to get elected in our colours these days. So I’ve decided to invent a constituency and just turn up at Westminster after the election with all the new MPs. I’ve dreamt up two groups of islands off the North coast of Scotland - call them Orkney and Shetland - as I don’t suppose anyone at Westminster will have been sea bathing at Thurso. Besides, my father fagged for the Serjeant at Arms, so there won’t be any awkward questions.” 

And his plan worked better than I had imagined possible. Over the years he got rather carried away with inventing new features in his constituency – ancient stone circles, a Viking cathedral, a Nissan hut turned into a gem of a chapel by an Italian prisoner of war – but no one smelled a rat. 

When the time came for Grimond to stand down, we agreed that the scheme was too clever to be allowed to die, so first Jim Wallace and then Alistair Carmichael were let into the secret. 

From time to time, I come across maps in our party’s policy documents or on membership cards that leave off Shetland or even Orkney, and have to make urgent phone calls to get them made consistent with our story. 

I say, it’s a good thing there’s a lock on this diary!

Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South West, 1906-10

Earlier this week....

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Sighcology: Davids Garnett, Lloyd George, Lawrence, Copperfield, Rook and Bronstein

Here's my column ('Sighcology') from the Summer issue of the Journal of Critical Psychology, Counselling and Psychotherapy.

The theme of the issue was 'David', and these are the thoughts I came up with.

Davids Garnett, Lloyd George, Lawrence, Copperfield, Rook and Bronstein

There’s a law that whenever you submit a piece of academic writing you immediately come across something you wish you had known about and been able to include. I recently published a chapter on Dickens and antisemitism that drew parallels between Oliver Twist and the local cults of unofficial boy saints, supposedly the victims of ritual killings by Jews, that flourished in the Middle Ages. Just after sending it off, I learnt that – shockingly – a textbook used in British schools until the 1980s stated that the blood libel was true in the case of the most famous of these ‘saints’, Little St Hugh of Lincoln.

Many years before, I completed a Masters dissertation on the romances of the 19th-century writer Richard Jefferies. One of these, Bevis: The Story of a Boy, was published in 1882 as a three-volume novel for adults but was gradually supplied with the apparatus that allowed it to be sold as a children’s classic. In the 1930s it acquired illustrations by E.H. Shepard:  the map on the endpapers had been drawn back in 1904 by an 11-year-old David Garnett.

I was reading Bevis as the adult novel it had once been, noting how Jefferies was aware that the freedom to play and wander it celebrated existed only because his young heroes were the sons of farmers rather than agricultural labourers. So I wish I had happened upon Lucy Masterman’s biography of her husband Charles Masterman. He was the minister who piloted David Lloyd George’s Health Insurance Act through the Commons in the teeth of opposition from the Conservatives and the medical profession.

Lucy Masterman remembers a stay with Lloyd George and his family:

"If we kept the law about trespassing when we were children … we should have nowhere to play but a dusty strip of grass by the high road." I never remember during all our visit passing a 'trespassers will be prosecuted' notice without him remarking “I hate that sort of thing.”

Yes, children’s freedom is an intensely political subject. The best summation of the debate is in Victor Watson’s Reading Series Fiction, where he discusses the children’s ‘camping and tramping’ fiction Bevis helped to inspire:

The rural background to all those friendly and welcoming fictional farmers was, in reality, one of economic and social stagnation in which farmers had to supplement their incomes in any way they could. When farmers began to prosper and agriculture became intensive, an entire genre of children’s fiction was effectively wiped out by Common Market farming subsidies. And at about the same time the Beeching cuts closed down the branch lines that had taken so many fictional children by steam to their favourite holiday destinations.


Is D.H. Lawrence – that’s David Herbert Richards Lawrence – much read these days? Back in the Seventies, when we were taught by teachers who had been trained by people who had studied under F.R. Leavis, he was a fixture in the curriculum.

Not only did I study The Rainbow for A level, I kept a second-hand selection of his literary criticism by me as a charm or for inspiration. I don’t know if it included anything from Lawrence’s Studies in Classic American Literature, but there you will find his most famous critical principle:

Never trust the artist. Trust the tale.

And Lawrence is right. The idea that the artist’s intention inhabits a work like a thin ghost is mistaken, as is the belief that it is this intention that gives the work its meaning. But then the idea that any work of art has just one meaning is wrong too. That’s a belief you see reflected in everyday criticism of popular music, where if a song can be seen to be about drugs or about sex then that becomes its real meaning and all other mere disguise

The truth is that works of art that remain of interest to us are the ones that reveal new meanings as the world changes around them. If you have just one thing to say, you don’t write a poem or produce a sculpture, you write a memo or put it on a coffee mug.


The adult David Copperfield can be a bit of a cold fish, so let’s quote George Orwell’s praise for Dickens’s depiction of him as a child:

No one, at any rate no English writer, has written better about childhood than Dickens. In spite of all the knowledge that has accumulated since, in spite of the fact that children are now comparatively sanely treated, no novelist has shown the same power of entering into the child's point of view. I must have been about nine years old when I first read David Copperfield. The mental atmosphere of the opening chapters was so immediately intelligible to me that I vaguely imagined they had been written by a child.


The novelist and illustrator David Rook has disappeared from view. There is no Wikipedia entry for him and the website of a dealer who sometimes has his artwork suggests that Rook is still alive. In fact, he died in a car crash 1970 at the age of 35.

Rook’s eclipse is surprising, because he specialised in the sort of nature stories that find a loyal following. Not only that: one of his Exmoor novels was filmed as Run Wild, Run Free in 1967 and a second as The Belstone Fox after his death. And the Disney film The Hound and the Fox sounds as though it owes more to that second novel (The Ballad of the Belstone Fox) than to the one it was officially adapting.

Rook gets a mention here because Run Wild, Run Free, which was based on his novel The White Colt, is about a boy whom we would now probably place somewhere on the autism spectrum. And the film is a firm believer in the ‘iceberg mother’ theory of the condition’s genesis.

That’s the thing about the Sixities: if there was a child with difficulties, it was always Sylvia Syms’s fault.


David Bronstein drew a match for the world chess championship in 1951, but under the rules the reigning champion, his fellow Soviet Mikhail Botvinnik, kept the title. Bronstein remained one of the greats of the game for another three decades.

The story is told that Bronstein once spent more than 30 minutes over his opening move in a tournament game. The audience thought: “This is wonderful. The maestro is working out a whole new opening scheme at the board.” But when one of his fellow grandmasters asked what he’d been thinking about all that time, he replied: “I was trying to remember where I’d left my hotel keys.”

The Ukranian-born Bronstein fell foul of the authorities when he declined to sign a round robin condemning the defection of the leading Soviet player Viktor Korchnoi. His own father had been sent to the Gulag because of an official belief, right or wrong, that he was related to Trotsky. There were also rumours that Bronstein had been put under pressure not to win his match against the model Soviet citizen Botvinnik.

But maybe he had already had his revenge. There is a story I have always believed, but am struggling to prove, that he named his son Lev. This made his full name Lev Davidovich Bronstein.

The Guy Hamper Trio featuring James Taylor: Cowboys are Square

Billy Childish (born Steven John Hamper) is a British  painter, author, poet, photographer, film maker, singer and guitarist. He co-founder the art movement Stuckism, a rebellion against the dominance of conceptual art and postmodernism, and was in a relationship with Tracey Emin for much of the Eighties. Presumably he made the bed.

The Guy Hamper Trio is one of a long line of groups to feature Childish. It's an instrumental trio that features guest musicians, and on Cowboys are Square it is the Hammond organ player James Taylor (not that James Taylor).

I love the Hammond sound here. You can imagine you're listening to a young Stevie Winwood at the Twisted Wheel.

Lord Bonkers' Diary: "You didn't argue with Violent"

One of the many things that surprises me about Lord Bonkers is the friendship he once enjoyed with the notorious London gang boss Violent Bonham Carter. I suspect their relationship was rather like the wary respect he has today for the Elves of Rockingham Forest: "One doesn't want to be turned into a frog, what?"


A researcher arrives at the Hall to quiz me about Violent Bonham Carter and the days when criminal gangs ran London. We cover the familiar ground of the murder Jack 'The Hat' McVitie (heir to the biscuit fortune), the many jewel robberies 'up the Garden' and the kidnapping of Dame Anna Neagle. 

Taking a shine to the young fellow, I let slip something that is not, I believe, generally known: those explosions in the Fifties that the authorities blamed on Isle of Wight Separatists were really the work of Violent's gang, concerned that other firms were "getting lairy". 

The researcher concludes by asking me a thoroughly modern question: what gender was Violent? I picture Violent in twin-set and pearls with three days' stubble hiding the razor scars and say firmly: "You didn’t argue with Violent. Violent Bonham Carter was whatever gender Violent Bonham Carter said Violent Bonham Carter was."

Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South West, 1906-10

Earlier this week....

Saturday, September 23, 2023

The Joy of Six 1164

"Neil Oliver and his pals see themselves as radical, romantic revolutionaries, but they are really nothing more than a dismal combination of David Icke and Liz Truss. They have nothing useful to say. Please don’t indulge them." Chris Deerin on the online stars of the conspirasphere.

Andrew Rawnsley says Theresa May's memoirs leave no stone unturned, except when it comes to her own failings.

"Our national record on infrastructure and amenities since 2010 has been consistently awful. After getting back onto a growth path from 2011 onwards we could’ve taken advantage of rock bottom interest rates to borrow and invest in public sector infrastructure but we chose not to. Treasury officials would’ve known there was a window of opportunity, but decided to sit on their hands." It's not just our schools that are crumbling, reveals Matthew Pennell.

Sam Freedman offers lessons from the slow-motion collapse of our criminal justice system.

James B. Meigs argues that government underestimates the sense and resilience of the general public when faced with a disaster: "Disaster literature bulges with examples - from Hurricane Katrina, to the 2011 Japan tsunami, to the current coronavirus pandemic - in which officials suppressed information, or passed along misinformation, out of concern over an unruly populace."

"For my money, the best thing about the movie is the women. They’re memorable, multifaceted, and utterly mesmerising." Shadows and Satin celebrates the Ealing Studios drama It Always Rains on Sunday.

Lord Bonkers' Diary: A Norman Lamb dhansak with naan bread

At least Freddie and Fiona don't have a new job this time, so they're a little less like Julian and Sandy.


Dinner with Freddie and Fiona. I arrive at their top-floor flat to find they have no cook, nor even a kitchen. Instead, I am handed a bundle of menus that encompasses every cuisine you can imagine (though I note there is no Rutland takeaway in this fashionable quarter of London – do I sniff a business opportunity?)

I make my choice – a Norman Lamb dhansak with naan bread – and then my hosts telephone the restaurant to arrange its delivery by fast bicycle. “A lot of older people are bringing orders these days,” says Freddie, and it does indeed take a little longer for my meal to arrive than I would wish. “There’s no way we can give you more than three stars,” Fiona tells the courier, who is grey haired and, it has to be said, rather grey in the face. 

Something about him seems familiar, and then I remember: he was a Liberal Democrat MP in Cornwall before the debacle of 2015. As he leaves, I slip him the number of the Home for Distressed Canvassers in Herne Bay, where a number of his former colleagues are seeing out their days in comfort.

Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South West, 1906-10

Earlier this week....

Friday, September 22, 2023

Tunes of Glory (1960): What happens when a victorious regiment comes home?

This post was written for Terence Towles Canote's 10th Annual Rule, Britannia Blogathon, where you will find plenty more articles on British cinema.

What is the most successful piece of casting against type in a British film? 

There’s Richard Attenborough’s turn as a bull of a Sergeant Major in Guns at Batasi. There’s James Fox as Chas in Performance, whose hooded eyes and half-smile haunt British gangster films to this day.

And there’s another candidate. How about Alec Guinness playing a hard-drinking officer in a Scottish regiment - red hair and all - who has been promoted from the ranks?

It may sound ridiculous, but you need only watch the trailer above to see that it’s not. In fact, Guinness’s performance as Major Jock Sinclair in Tunes of Glory reminds us what a peerless actor he was.

This post contains spoilers, but there's good news. You can watch the film on YouTube first if you wish (just don’t tell them I sent you).

Directed by Ronald Neame, Tunes of Glory is set in the barracks of a Scottish regiment just after the end of the second world war.

Though Jock Sinclair, in his own words, has led the regiment "from Dover to Berlin", he is still just a Major. He holds a brevet rank as Lieutenant Colonel, but as Wikipedia explains, brevet ranks are given as a reward but do not necessarily confer the authority and privileges of that higher rank.

We first see Sinclair holding court at the end of a regimental dinner - there are pipers and oceans of whisky. He has news: the regiment is getting a new colonel and it’s not him. It is to be Lieutenant Colonel Basil Barrow, who is played by John Mills.

The Wikipedia entry on Tunes of Glory has an admirable plot summary, so I’ll let it take up the tale for a little:

Colonel Barrow arrives a day early and finds the officers dancing rowdily. He declines sharing a whisky with Sinclair, taking a soft drink instead. They exchange histories. Sinclair enlisted as bandsman in Glasgow and rose through the ranks, Barrow came from Oxford University. He served with the battalion in 1933. Assigned to "special duties", he has lectured at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Sinclair humorously notes that he was in Barlinnie Prison's cooler for being drunk and disorderly one night in 1933. 

When Sinclair presses Barrow about his war years, he replies that he, too, was "in jail". Sinclair recalls that Barrow was a prisoner of the Japanese and belittles the experience - "officers' privileges and amateur dramatics". Barrow simply replies that Barlinnie would have been preferable.

At 3 am Sinclair is drinking with Major Scott, played by Dennis Price, and we hear his outburst to him: "I've acted Colonel, I should be Colonel, and by God... I bloody well will be Colonel!"

Barrow proves to be a martinet and is not prepared to cut the battle-weary regiment any slack. He takes particular exception to the rowdy style of Highland dancing they favour, and orders all the officers to take lessons so they dance they way he wants them to when he holds a cocktail party for the local gentry.

This reminds me that, in a recent episode of The Rest of Politics, Alastair Campbell was surprised to learn that Rory Stewart had dancing lessons when he held a gap-year commission in the Black Watch at the start of the 1990s.

Anyway, the dancing after the party gets rowdy despite Barrow’s efforts and, red faced and furious, he breaks up proceedings before fleeing in shame at his own behaviour. He knows that the bulk of his officers feel a loyalty to Sinclair that they do not feel to him, and the evening can only have made things worse. To the modern viewer, it seems obvious from this and from the collection of tics and twitches Mills deploys, that he is suffering post-traumatic stress from his wartime experiences.

I sometimes struggle to understand the esteem in which John Mills was held as an actor in Britain - he had an unfortunate habit of being cast in roles for which he was visibly too old - but he is good in Tunes of Glory. Particularly so, as his character is less immediately appealing than Alec Guinness’s and does not allow for the same bravura acting.

The clash between these two flawed characters has an almost Shakespearian heft. As the retired US Marine Corps infantry officer and historian Reed Bonadonna observes, it’s tempting to say that each has the qualities the other lacks – “Sinclair is a warrior and leader of men, but he’s hopeless as an organiser and disciplinarian.”

He goes on:

Despite their obvious differences, the two leads are similar in the sense that both are essentially lonely and unfulfilled. Both have been married but are now on their own. Sinclair has a grown daughter with whom he has a loving but somewhat distant relationship. Both are burdened by their memories of the war.

Barrow spent years in harsh and unproductive captivity. Sinclair suspects that his best days are over, and even that his wartime success was a fluke. They also share a keen sense of the burden and isolation of command. There is the hint of Othello in Tunes of Glory, with Barrow as the Moor and Sinclair as his Iago.

And it is Sinclair’s relationship with his daughter that brings things to a head. Unknown to Sinclair, but known to many others in the barracks, she has been going out with one of the regiment’s pipers. When he finally comes across them together, he strikes the corporal.

This is a clear court-martial offence and Barrow is first minded to bring charges against him. But he is put under pressure by almost everyone to deal with the matter himself. He goes to see Sinclair, who promises that he will be supportive in future if Barrow shows him leniency.

Against his better judgement, he decides against a court martial, only to find that Sinclair does not change at all. He still gives him no support and continues to drink with his 'babies', as he calls the  officers loyal to him. Humiliated, Barrow leaves them, goes upstairs and shoots himself.

Ironically, it is in his reaction to Barrow’s suicide that we see the best of Sinclair. His command of the situation and concern for the young soldier who found the body make us see why he was a good leader in battle and inspired respect and even affection in the men under him.

To assuage his guilt - "it’s not his body I fear, it’s his ghost," he says to himself at one point - he plans a grandiose funeral for Barrow. As he describes it to the other officers we hear the pipe band playing the 'tunes of glory', but it becomes clear to them that he has lost his reason and the room empties.

"Oh my babies, take me home," Sinclair pleads to Scott and another officer, and as he is driven away, the film ends. With one protagonist dead and the other driven mad, Tunes of Glory, it occurs to me, has unexpected parallels with Performance.

The supporting cast here is uniformly excellent. Dennis Price’s Major Scott is a typically disengaged Price character. We wonder if he is just a sardonic observer of the tragedy, or if he is the real Iago, encouraging Sinclair and Barrow to destroy one another so he can become Colonel amid the wreckage?

Gordon Jackson plays Captain Jimmy Cairns, the other officer who is there with Sinclair at the end. Yet he has also been Barrow’s right-hand man as he struggles to reform the regiment. Jackson always did have the knack of playing good men who were not dull, which is a rare gift. Certainly, the villains in British films of the Fifties are often surprising dark and alluring, whereas the heroes are just wet - compare Dirk Bogarde and Jimmy Hanley in The Blue Lamp.

Many of the other officers are played - and well played - by familiar faces: Gerald Harper, Paul Whitsun-Jones, Allan Cuthbertson (who you will recognise him from gourmet night at Fawlty Towers, if nowhere else). The Pipe Major is Duncan Macrae, who appeared in every film about Scotland made after the war and was always a welcome presence.

Sinclair’s daughter Morag is played by Susannah York in her first film role. Liberal Democrat readers may be interested to know that York was at RADA with our own Flick Rea. Trivia fans will be interested that Flick told me that a young man from Liverpool shared their classes for two terms but did not make the grade. So he returned North to the family business, to re-emerge a few years later as the manager of the Beatles.

Tunes of Glory is an exceptionally good film. As another American military writer, Jim Shufelt, says:

This is not a 'war movie', but Tunes of Glory features an intense portrayal of leadership, discipline and reintegration issues common to soldiers and units of any conflict, army, or time period.

He goes on to suggest that watching it could form part of current-day officers’ professional development.

This is not a surprise: the screenplay is by James Kennaway, adapted from his own novel of the same name. Kennaway himself held a commission in a Scottish regiment while doing his National Service. He was invited by the Colonel to apply for a permanent commission, but declined, in part because of the tensions between his fellow officers.

Tunes of Glory was on a list of 10 British films that should be better known I posted recently. Maybe you’ll find another there to enjoy?

Shropshire Council: We've voted to borrow £95m by mistake

The saga of the Conservatives' proposed North West relief road for Shrewsbury has taken a farcical turn:

From BBC News:

Councillors voted to back £95m of extra borrowing, after the figure was accidentally included by mistake in a report over a planned bypass.

The figure featured in a report on the North West Relief Road linking northern and western Shrewsbury.

A finance director said he had been "confused" when the figure was mentioned in the council debate.

Shropshire Council said the £95m figure that made its way into the report was not a true estimate.

It had raised concern over whether the true cost of the scheme had more than doubled from £87m to £182m.

The report later says:

Liberal Democrat councillor and transport campaigner Rob Wilson said he had been asking in vain for an updated cost estimate since he was elected in 2021.

He said: "Today at council the Conservatives proposed taking out a £95m loan to make up an unspecified funding gap.

"I asked why they would need £95m for an £87m road and was not given an answer."

Lord Bonkers' Diary: Have a Go with Thérèse Coffey

Have a Go was a radio quiz hosted by Wilfred Pickles that attracted 20 million listeners a week. I don't remember it, but I was surprised to find that I might have done, as it ran from 1946 to 1967. What I do remember is Round the Horne making fun of it - or at least I read that sketch in a book of scripts I was given for Christmas round about 1973. As I have said before, the problem with this column is not that Lord Bonkers is getting too old but that I am getting too old.

Gove Island, I understand, is a television programme enjoyed by the young people.


It's time someone did something about the Gibb brothers. First there was Robbie Gibb, a bigwig at the BBC who has been using his role there to further Conservative interests at every turn. It is he who is responsible for the replacement of Gary Lineker as host of Match of the Day by Jacob Rees-Mogg and for such programmes as Have a Go with Thérèse Coffey and Gove Island. 

Now another Gibb has surfaced: Nick Gibb, who it appears has been building schools out of an inferior sort of concrete. It won’t affect us here, as I had the village school built with best Hornsey featherstone, but it’s causing no end of a problem up and down the country, with taller pupils having to take it in turns to hold up the roof. 

The only thing I will say in defence of the Gibb brothers is that their music for Saturday Night Fever was very good. Perhaps you know it? ‘Night fever rumtpy-tum Night fever’ – that’s how it goes.

Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South West, 1906-10

Earlier this week....

Thursday, September 21, 2023

GUEST POST Many liberal Conservatives are becoming conservative Liberals

Buddy Anderson
 traces his path from Conservative voter to Liberal Democrat councillor - and a Liberal Democrat councillor in Market Harborough at that.

       One flew east, one flew west,
       One flew over the Conservatives nest.

Like many who perhaps now find themselves more like conservative Liberals, I once was a liberal Conservative - a title that David Cameron had imposed upon himself even before his bromance with Nick Clegg. 

Something resonated with me back then at that idea. Labour had supposedly spent all our money, and everybody was jolly fed up. 

Along came the new 21st-century Tories who apparently didn’t hate poor people and were going to balance the books for us. What joy!

Fast forward 13 years and my friends on the left will cry "same old Tories!" at every opportunity they get. I don’t agree with that, because it wasn’t always this bad. There used to be Tories you could work with, as the Coalition proved for better or for worse. 

Boris Johnson and the Brexit civil war purged almost every Tory with a shred of decency out of the party. Liz Truss tortured the survivors. 

So where are the liberal Conservatives now? Well, many, like me, have found a new home in the Liberal Democrats.

When I joined the Lib Dems I was sheepish about my previous voting record. I was never a Conservative Party member, but I was worried about how my new friends would react. 

To my surprise they barely battered an eyelid. The Lib Dems are truly a broad church, a middle-ground for the politically homeless, and not just for disillusioned blue voters. 

Some of my colleagues used to be Red - too sensible to vote for Corbyn, too progressive to vote for Starmer. We don’t care where you came from, what matters is why you are here. I have never felt more at home.

To those of you who voted for a party you no longer recognise, you were not wrong to follow your heart at the time, but you are very much welcome in the Lib Dems. 

We do not agree on everything, but we are compassionate and pragmatic, with a shared disgust for selfish career politicians. 

Liberty, freedom and equality are at the forefront of our social policy. But we also understand responsible fiscal policy, as the only party to have a full-costed manifesto in 2019.

Take it from me, there is a home to be made in the house of yellow.

Buddy Anderson is a Liberal Democrat councillor in Market Harborough. Follow him on Twitter.